Questions Relating to David Stannard's Before the Horror


  Each student was assigned a question to answer.


1.    What was Lieutenant James King's population estimate of Hawai'i in 1778-79? How did he come up with that figure? (pp. 3-4)



2.    What were the population estimates given by Bligh, Dixon, and Golovnin? When did each of these men visit the islands? What are some of the problems with each of their estimates? (pp. 4-8)



3.    Why does Stannard question the use of William Bayly's 1778 estimate of Ni'ihau's population? (pp. 8-9)



4.    What does Stannard say about the environmental conditions of Kaho'olawe in pre-haole times? (pg. 10)



5.    What does Stannard say about the size of the population on Lana'i? (pp. 10-12)



6.    Why is it difficult to estimate the population of Kealakekua Bay based on house-counting? (pp. 13-16)



7.    Why can't we assume that the population density at Kealakekua is reflective of all coastal areas? Discuss Stannard's argument on leeward vs. windward settlement. (pp. 16-22)



8.    Why does King believe a quarter of the islands' coastlines were uninhabited? Is this a correct assessment? (pp. 23-25)



9.    Why does King believe that the interior parts of the islands were uninhabited? Is this a correct assessment? (pp. 25-26)



10.What is the procedure that has "undergirded every previous estimate" and of which Stannard is critical? (pg. 31)





Discussion Question

There are those in the scholarly community who do not agree with Stannard's raising of the 1778 population estimate from the previously accepted 300,000 to approximately 800,000. What do you think?




Think/Write Question

Do you think Stannard's pre-contact population estimate has been used in the political debates of modern Hawai'i? Why do you think the numbers are so important to Hawaiian activists today?